Why read reviews? Because trailers for movies can be so misleading. A trailer for a comedy can extract all the funny parts and edit them together in a two-to-three-minute sequence that begs you to run, not walk, to the box office. The same can be said for a dramatic trailer that builds tension and intrigue. Buy that ticket! Click that title to the top of your Netflix queue.
“Black Swan” has a brilliant trailer. Alas, one hour and eight minutes of watching the movie seems like three hours — and not in a good way.
Natalie Portman is exceptional as Nina, the young ballerina finally given her shot at a lead role. At every turn, she’s met with an angst-ridden challenge, whether it be her overbearing mother (wonderfully portrayed by Barbara Hershey), the dance company guru (roguishly acted by Vincent Cassel), or her understudy, Lily (Mila Kunis, who almost steals the spotlight in classic understudy fashion).
Director Darren Aronofsky (who also helmed “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke) keeps the audience teetering between reality and fantasy, much like his leading ballerina. With creative editing and stark cinematography, it’s hard not to be drawn into the intensity. And yet …
The one thing missing in “Black Swan” is the essential ingredient in any art form: You’ve got to engage the viewer whether it’s a play or a painting or a prelude. More simply put, you’ve got to make us care about someone!
The beauty of ballet takes a back seat to cruelty, sex and violence in the “Black Swan.” None of which you’ll see in the trailer.
A 35-year-old schoolteacher with an overbearing mother, an over-zealous co-worker and a fly-by-night romantic liaison hardly seems meaty material for a feature film and yet “Rachel, Rachel” is intriguing from start to finish.
Paul Newman directs Joanne Woodward (his wife off-screen) as Rachel. The seemingly simple lifestyle of the elementary school teacher who has never married is actually quite complex as she emotionally vacillates between reality and fantasy.
Her father was the town mortician and now Rachel and her mother live upstairs of the funeral home. Rachel walks to work, serves tea sandwiches at her mother’s bridge gatherings and reluctantly attends a revival meeting with her co-worker, Calla (Estelle Parsons).
When a former classmate comes to town and asks Rachel on a date, her world, and her fantasies, take on an entirely different focus.
Based on the Margaret Laurence novel, “A Jest of God,” and adapted for the screen by Stewart Stern, Newman’s directorial interpretation offers more than simply a major star’s turn behind the camera. He directs with subtlety and sensitivity in telling the story and most of all had the wisdom to cast an extraordinary actress in Woodward.
“Rachel, Rachel” is a name worth repeating and a film worth seeing.
If you’re lucky, watching “Winter’s Bone” will seem like visiting a strange new place. It’s cold of temperature and chilling of atmosphere and with every turn in the road a creepy character seems to appear out of nowhere.
Jennifer Lawrence is Ree, a high school student who cares for her questionably sane mother and two much-younger siblings. When she gets word that the family will lose their humble home if their meth-dealing daddy doesn’t appear for his court date, Ree is determined to find him. The only problem with that — and it’s a huge problem — is that no one else seems to want this man found.
Debra Granik started her career as a cinematographer and her vision as the director of “Winter’s Bone” is mesmerizing. The look of the film is of equal importance to the casting. Using many Missouri locals in the cast, Granik draws excellent performances from professionals and amateurs alike.
As Ree, Lawrence is required to skin squirrels and chop wood and at 21 years of age gives a convincing performance as a mountain girl overwhelmed yet determined to do right by her family.
“Winter’s Bone” is recommended for mature teens and adults.
Grading this week’s DVDs: the ABC’s
Mon, Mar 19, 2012
Politics, political figures and spies
Tue, Mar 6, 2012
Tue, Feb 14, 2012
And now, reality
Mon, Jan 30, 2012
Looking back on the year that was (Part 1 of 2)
Wed, Dec 7, 2011
Film buffs should revisit ‘Northwest’
Wed, Nov 2, 2011
Conspiracy theories played out on film
Tue, Oct 18, 2011
Mix-ups, marriage and horse management
Mon, Oct 3, 2011
Going ‘Grease,’ locally and on DVD
Tue, Sep 13, 2011
It’s All About the Music
Fri, Sep 9, 2011